What are the social studies themes/units on which you feel you could be an expert, or even a guest speaker? Why? Discuss.

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I would not use the term 'expert' but I am passionate about the Civil Rights Movement and thus believe that this is an area I would seek more education on and be willing to speak to others regarding it. There are may people living today who have had first-hand experiences from the Civil Rights movement. They would definitely offer valuable insight.

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I do not have many personal experiences that are very unique, but I do have a doctorate. I might speak about my choice to get a terminal degree and the effect it had on me and my outlook on life. It's not the most practical degree, but I do use it to teach college!
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Having lived through a number of social movements, these would be the ones that I would feel comfortable enough speaking about.  One such movement is that of racial quotas, affirmative action, and minority rights at work.  Having been on the college campuses when scholarships were given to "underprivileged" students who came and changed the atmosphere on campus, having worked in businesses, and having been involved with scholarship programs and admission requirements, I have seen both pros and cons.

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I am interested in WWII,  and read a lot of historical fiction and non-fiction about this time period both in Europe and on the American home-front. I think it would neat for students to hear not just about the key battles and the movement of troops, but of the personal stories of the common people who were forever changed by this momentous event in history.

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I have taught Sociology for 2 years and studied it myself in various different guises. I think one area that particularly fascinates me is the way that crime and deviance are not fixed entities as we often treat them as being but actually something that are shaped by cultural norms and values. This is why, for example, it is perfectly normal for Koreans and Indonesians to eat dog whereas this action is seen as being deviant and abhorrent by other cultures where a dog is a man's best friend.

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One unit which I teach is a unit on stereotypes and racism. While not an "expert," I would consider myself a person who could be a guest speaker on the subject. (One of the units I teach is going to be submitted for a county district seminar.) I think that the novels I teach, along with the primary sources, make for interesting material on different ways people see each other, react with each other and treat each other. The students have always liked the unit and I have been observed teaching it as well (this is where the suggestion came from for me to speak on the subject at a conference).

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One recurring theme of many social studies units (especially in the elementary and middle grades) is the idea of leadership and community service, or "What is my place in my community?"  I think it is a theme that could very easily be covered by a series of guest speakers who could motivate kids into more active forms of citizenship and service.

This is also a good topic to leeway into dialogue with students about other controversial "community" issues such as bullying, gangs (or inclusion/exclusion), and how to find outlets for positive participation outside of the classroom.

I've always been a particularly good speaker/faciliator of such topics.

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I personally could speak to a class or group about autism. My fourteen-year-old daughter, Austen, has autism. There are a lot of myths out there about what an autistic person is "like." Although 1 in 120 children are diagnosed with this neurological disorder which primarily affects social interaction, very few people have ever met with someone who has autism. If they have heard of it at all, they will ask me, "Oh, is she like "Rainman," (the film starring Dustin Hoffman as an autistic savant) or, more recently, is she like Temple Grandin?

The answer is no, she is not a savant and no, she is not as communicative as Temple, yet she is verbal and very loving, a fact that surprises a lot of people who tend to think that all autistic people do not show love.

I could also speak for a long while on the effects on the entire family of having a child with autism. The stress is unbelievable. Most marriages do not survive it (mine did not), most neurotypical siblings will need therapy (my son did).

I would try to dispell the myth that vaccines cause autism. I would try to show that even though we have our challenges, I cannot imagine my daughter as a different "normal" person.

 

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This will, of course, be different for different people.  For me, the unit I would be best at (most unique) would be a unit on cultural differences and cultural interactions.  The reason for this is that I have been exposed to many cultures and am also a student of social sciences.  This means that I have both a personal experience of the subject and academic knowledge of it.

I often speak to various classes (ones my kids are in, etc) about growing up in a different culture and about the ways in which the culture of the islands where I grew up (Micronesia) was affected by the various powers (Spain, Germany, Japan, US) that colonized or administered the islands.  We look at things like how language changes with cultural interaction and at how values change as well.

This is the sort of unit to which I bring the most value because it is one that relatively few people have as much experience with as I do.

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